Misconceptions About Cloud, Clarified!

GUPTA, Gagan       Posted by GUPTA, Gagan
      Published: July 1, 2021
        |  

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Blame unrealistic technology hype and media misinterpretations for all this misunderstandings. Cloud Computing is often misunderstood by those who are outside the field - and sometimes even within the realm. Cloud related Misconceptions have arisen primarily due to the following:

- Lack of authoritative facts.
- Evolving nature of the industry.
- General flaws in human logic.

Misconception: Cloud should be used for everything

Cloud is a great fit for multiple use cases, such as highly variable or unpredictable workloads or for where self-service provisioning is key or where organizations are skeptical to upfront high infrastructure costs. However, not all applications and workloads are a fit for cloud. For example, unless clear cost savings can be realized, moving a legacy application is generally not a good use case.

The cloud may not benefit all workloads equally. Don't be afraid to propose in-house solutions when appropriate.

Misconception: The Cloud Faces More Security Risks

It's completely understandable; a new technology that processes and stores all sensitive business and customer data offsite which can be accessed remotely from anywhere; surely this benefits the hacker? Well, not actually. AWS, Microsoft, Google and other major cloud providers are hyper-focused on security and regularly perform external auditing to ensure full compliance and certification for their infrastructure.

You have to remember that the biggest risk to cloud hosting providers is a security breach, so their efforts to combat such an event are extensive. The amount of time, knowledge and investment dedicated to securing their service is likely far superior to any in-house IT equivalent. It's also worth mentioning the surprisingly high number of data breaches suffered by businesses as a result of human error or internal threats, the chances of which are hugely reduced in a cloud environment. However, IT professionals must still set policies and configure applications properly.

Misconception: My Business Is Too Small (Or Too Big) To Use Cloud Computing

Because Cloud computing is based on a concept called virtualization, it can shrink or expand as needed, without having to reconfigure physical IT setups. So if you have a business of five people that suddenly grows, a Cloud-based infrastructure can accommodate that with much less fuss than an old-school wired network of servers and computers. The Cloud is eminently customizable. No business is too small (and very few are too large) that they cannot use the Cloud. Its more of a matter of policy, strategy, and vision.

Misconception: Cloud is more secure than on-premises capabilities

In the past, cloud computing was perceived as less secure than on-premises capabilities. However, there have been very few security breaches in the public cloud, and most breaches continue to involve misconfiguration of the cloud service. Today, the majority of cloud providers invest significantly in security, realizing that their business would be at risk without doing so.

Yet this doesn't mean that security is guaranteed in the cloud. Cloud security is a shared responsibility between the provider and the consumer. CIOs should not assume that cloud providers are not secure, but should also not assume that they are. As security levels of cloud providers vary, assess your actual capabilities and your potential provider's capabilities and hold both to reasonable standards. However, IT professionals must still set policies and configure applications properly.

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Misconceptions About Cloud, Clarified!
Misconceptions About Cloud, Clarified!

Misconception: Once we are moved to the cloud, the work is done

There are many different paths to the cloud, ranging from simple re-hosting (or 'lift and shift'), typically via infrastructure as a service, to a complete changeover to an application implemented by a software as a service (SaaS) provider. Cloud is as much an operating model as it is a technology. Organizations that find success with cloud adapt their operating process to fully leverage cloud principles.

Managers often underestimate the impact that comes with Cloud migration and often miss the opportunities for constructive structural and process adjustments that are newly possible and could generate added value. Migration to the cloud alone is not the end of the story. It is just as important to pay attention to the changes, opportunities and potential risks that are triggered by this change. To take advantage of cloud capabilities, it is essential to understand the model and have realistic expectations. Make sure to include post-migration activities as part of the cloud implementation plan. You can't just move things to the cloud and expect that you're done.

Misconception: The Cloud is a New Technology

Despite the staggering market valuations mentioned earlier, many still consider the cloud a new technology - something for the future that is still in its infancy and needs refining. It's almost as though the cloud has been a victim of its own success, and such rapid growth and hype has led many to believe it will be short-lived and soon replaced by 'the next best solution'.

In reality, the cloud has been optimized for years. We are already in the 3rd generation of Cloud Services. Any future refining and advancements would only be improving on an already optimized service. If you regard AWS as cloud computing's break into the mainstream market, it's a technology that is fast approaching 20 years of industry authority.

Misconception: The main value of cloud business cases is IT cost reductions.

The common industry introduction to cloud refers to the replacement of key IT activities, access to on-demand infrastructure, provisioned compute, storage, database services, and more. While all these descriptors are accurate, organization leaders often hear them and lose sight of the broader impact cloud can have on transforming the full IT operating model and, most importantly, on the business. Consequently, when they set out to write a business case, they spend months analyzing on-premises costs compared with cloud costs and focus much less time on the main value driver of cloud: the business benefits.

The reality is that the aggregation of business benefits can swamp IT cost efficiencies in cloud. For example, application-hosting spend at large companies often represents only a fraction of total revenues, perhaps 0.5 percent. Even if cloud could reduce this spend by 25 percent, this would be only 'small potatoes' compared with the broader potential business impacts from cloud.

Misconception: Moving to cloud eliminates the need for an infrastructure organization.

The idea of infrastructure as a service (IaaS)-that an external provider will manage your underlying network, hardware, and resources-is an exciting proposition for many organizational leaders. The Misconception arises, however, when leaders interpret IaaS as a full replacement for their infrastructure organization. While cloud radically changes the activities, talent, and operating model required in an internal infrastructure group, and beyond it, it does not altogether replace the need for infrastructure management.

When companies transition to cloud, they will encounter hundreds of services that can be combined and configured to affect performance, security, resiliency, and more. They need an infrastructure team that can build and manage standard templates, architectures, and services for use by their development teams. As infrastructure in cloud is managed through code, this infrastructure team will require different skill sets, in order to see the full range of cloud benefits.

In general, traditional infrastructure teams running cloud would be too large and too costly and would miss the benefits of having app teams own shared responsibility for the run costs they incur. On the other hand, having no infrastructure team at all would wreak havoc on an organization's ability to manage and benefit from cloud. Instead, a leaner, more specialized infrastructure organization is required to achieve the full range of agility, innovation, and performance benefits of cloud.

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Misconception: The cloud is a standalone solution

Some organizations perceive the cloud myopically as this separate entity with a specific set of workloads and functions - business continuity, test development, customer-facing internet solutions and so forth. But by managing the cloud in that restrictive fashion, you miss out on the greater potential of integrating the public cloud and on-prem systems for a true hybrid scenario that provides agility, prevents vendor lock-in and lets you grow as an organization.

Integrating cloud resources enables a host of capabilities: for example, performing analytics in the cloud and circling telemetry back to users. Another cloud advantage, computing at the edge, can bring capabilities closer to the end-user and reduce latency. You have the flexibility to enjoy the best of cloud and on-prem services to build a truly unique solution. And, you can build operational models that can be leveraged across on-prem and cloud, versus separate models, for continuity as people move and teams grow.

Misconception: Legacy applications won't work in the cloud.

Many businesses yet to adopt cloud technology worry that their legacy software systems will increase migration complexity. Fortunately, CSP support for legacy applications has continued to grow in recent years, lowering this barrier to adoption.

Additionally, all the CSPs have an increasingly strong answer to those tricky workloads that can't move to the cloud for regulatory reasons: Google Anthos, Azure Arc and AWS Outposts/EKS Anywhere have all benefited from recent releases and provide great alternatives for organizations to connect their existing IT infrastructure to modern systems and technologies.

Conclusion

The best way to avoid these and other misconceptions is to take your time developing a sound cloud smart strategy and migration path that you can follow with confidence. Cloud computing is still a subject of research. A driving factor in the evolution of cloud computing has been chief technology officers seeking to minimize risk of internal outages and mitigate the complexity of housing network and computing hardware in-house.

Cloud computing is beneficial to many enterprises; it lowers costs and allows them to focus on competence instead of on matters of IT and infrastructure. Nevertheless, cloud computing has proven to have some limitations and disadvantages, especially for smaller business operations, particularly regarding security and downtime. The key is to work with advisors who truly understand cloud technologies and their benefits - experts who can educate you on the pros and cons of any given approach and will help you develop a plan free of misconceptions about cloud computing.

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